Every year the world comes together on June 14 to celebrate World Blood Donor Day. This year the World Health Organization is celebrating the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day with a slogan for this year “Give the gift of life: donate blood”. World Health Organizations aims to achieve 100% supply of blood in all countries from voluntary unpaid donors (Melbourne Declaration). The declaration recognized the need for a sustainable blood supply by increasing the number of voluntary donors who donate regularly. It also thanked the donors and recognized the importance of protecting them. It also recognized the fact that achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases is dependent on safe transfusion and sustainable blood supply. The reasons for the demand for blood differ in low income countries and high income countries. Blood is required to treat anemia in children under 5, and to manage pregnancy related complications in the lower income countries especially the African nations where as in developed nations blood is required in cardiovascular and transplant surgery, cancer treatment etc. In many countries, there is not an adequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.
Every year around 107 million units of blood are collected from donors globally. The optimistic aspect about the collections is that as much 50% of the blood donations come from countries with high income group which is home to only 15% of the world’s population. Imagine a day where blood donations are collected from 50% of the world population. So many lives can be saved and the Melbourne declaration can be achieved easily. Today 73 countries around the world have to collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors. We accept the fact that blood donation varies from income group, still WHO is striving hard in association with countries to encourage voluntary blood donations. However, only 62% of the countries have specific legislation covering the safety and quality of blood transfusion.
France the host nation for this year is supporting this cause since the 1950s and is self sufficient in voluntary blood supply. However, Sri Lanka which will host the World blood donor day 2014 has remarkable achieved the feet within just 10 years. The percentage of voluntary blood donations has grown from 39% to 97% since 2003. Sri Lankans say that because most of them are Buddhists that’s why blood donation is religiously and culturally accepted and very much a valued concept. The approaches that Sri Lanka has taken towards this initiative are that they encourage blood donations on full moon day in schools, temples, universities. Other innovations include facebook page, free CPR training and card system (silver/gold/platinum).
The blood donation performance in India is comparatively poor with only 10-20 persons donating blood among 1000 persons. We as Indians need to think about the blood requirements and try and save every life which is at risk due to non-availability of blood to transfuse. It’s very obnoxious that many die in India because we don’t even have 10% of the population donating blood which can save millions of lives. That’s why today we ask you some straight forward questions, when is the last time you donated blood? Or when is the last time someone you know donated blood?
Help save lives, encourage everyone along with yourself to donate blood.